Mark Krikorian is a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues serving as the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies. They are an independent, non-partisan research organization examining and critiquing the impact of immigration on the United States. He has testified numerous times before congress and has published articles in many outlets.
The conversation began over a press release from Gwen Moore, a congresswoman from Southeast Wisconsin who said that President Trump created the immigration crisis.
Did he? Mark thinks it’s yes and no. The immigration laws haven’t changed. What President Trump did was begin to enforce the laws. Specifically, it’s a criminal offense to sneak across the U.S. border. It’s called ‘entry without inspection’. The first time it’s a misdemeanor and every subsequent time it’s a felony. As time has gone on, very few people get prosecuted.
Under the Bush administration, they began an initiative at certain narrow parts of the border where they would prosecute everyone they caught. It would involve time served, perhaps 3 or 4 days, you would have a criminal conviction on your record, and if you came back, you would be convicted for a felony.
Under President Obama, they rolled that back. In 2015 Senator McCain and Senator Flake issued a scathing press release demanding that Obama reinstate the zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting everyone at certain parts of the Arizona border.
So basically what President Trump has done is to reinstate this plan but do it everywhere along the border. This is what has caused the hysteria over family separation because they weren’t targeting people bringing children with them, they were prosecuting everyone. The problem is that those adults with children created this issue because obviously you can’t put the children in jail. They ended up separating the parents from the children with the children ending up in shelters or delivered off to relatives who already live here.
Mark agrees we’re seeing a significant increase in children at the border. The reason it’s happening is because if you’re an illegal immigrant, and if you have a child with you, that child acts as a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card. So until last week when they stopped doing it, if you had a child with you, you were given a summons to show up at some indeterminate future date (which very few did) and you were let go.
Does this provoke human trafficking and child smuggling? Mark believes it does as the border patrol has seen increasing numbers of children who are not related to the people bringing the into the U.S. Sometimes people will let their children go with someone else for free so the smuggler won’t charge them but the payment is that they let their children be coached to lie that the other person is a parent.
Mark believes what we’re seeing from the media on this issue is simply hysteria. Some of the reporting has been true, but that which has really gained traction is based upon lies. Scholars call it, ‘atrocity propaganda’ where you make up stories or you take stories that really did happen and you distort them.
Jim and Mark cover much more on this issue, with callers weighing in as well, on this edition of Crosstalk.
Center for Immigration Studies